Birth Control Pills: Men Get Free Sex, Women Could Get Cancer
I saw on the news last week that birth control pills are now potentially linked to brain cancer.
According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (I have a monthly subscription — got it in a package deal along with Highlights Magazine) women who took chemical birth control at any point in their lives show a 50 percent higher likelihood of developing a certain type of brain tumor. The researchers concluded that the results, though startling, shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to discontinue using the pill.
They’re right. Just those results, alone in a vacuum, would only probably be a good reason to never take an oral contraceptive. But put it in a blender and mix it with all of the other negative aspects of the pill, and you end up with one horrific smoothie. Speaking of smoothies, in a country where health food is all the rage, trans-fats are banned, cigarettes are all but banned, and sugary sodas are next on the chopping block, birth control pills would be no doubt subject to severe scrutiny if not for the fact that they are the Eucharist to liberal feminism.
Note: I am not saying only liberal feminists take birth control pills. I am saying the pill is particularly crucial to liberal feminist philosophy because it’s seen as a “liberation” from their feminine biology. I’m sure some women take it and don’t see it that way. Still, it is a sacred chemical cow because of its political and social implications. If it did not have those implications — if people were as dogmatic about the pill as they are about, say, Tylenol — we’d be living in a very different culture, and I doubt that chemical birth control would be nearly as ubiquitous. (Yes, I agree “The Chemical Cows” would make a great name for an experimental indie rock band, ditto for “The Horrific Smoothies”).
If a woman’s reproductive powers were seen as powers, rather than a disease or a burden or an oppression, I think conservatives and liberals alike could find many common reasons to reject the pill. If we could simply get past the notion that a woman must be liberated from her nature, we might all look at hormonal birth control and see it as the poison it is. And not just poison, but poison unfairly placed before women. Feminists are on a constant quest to find double standards, yet they miss the most obvious ones. Women assume the enormous risk and consequence of birth control, and men just get free sex out of the deal.
Where is the feminist outrage when you need it?
So, in the spirit of unity, I’d like to provide five reasons why everyone should hate the pill:
1) A steady diet of potentially harmful chemicals.
These days, we don’t like to eat a hamburger if we find out the cow was injected with synthetic hormones. It’s bad for the environment, we say, and probably bad for us. Give us our beef chemical-free! No more chemicals! No more hormones in our food! This is our mantra, and we are willing to assume the cost and inconvenience to be assured that our chicken nuggets and T-bone steaks are organic and natural.
Yet those convictions somehow rarely apply to the highly potent mix of synthetic hormones many women consume on a near-daily basis for years and years of their lives. There really is no way to explain this contradiction, other than to say that our “organic” enthusiasm is either a lie or severely misapplied.
I think both, to some degree. I find that, in our culture, we often stumble upon the right conclusions, and then point them in precisely the wrong directions. In this case, we’re right to fret about consuming “chemicals” and synthetic hormones, but we ought to be far less worried about the chemicals that make our beef taste delicious, and far more worried about the chemicals that fundamentally alter a woman’s physiology and screw around with her reproductive system. It seems rather silly to get worked up over genetically modified food when we are so eager to chemically modify ourselves.
2) Diseasing a woman’s body.
The birth control pill is a dramatic and potentially harmful “medication” designed to “cure” a natural function of a woman’s body. It seems that men who develop and push these pills are vaguely sexist and anti-woman (OK, not vaguely) because they have literally made a female’s reproductive system into a sickness.
That Time article about brain cancer I linked to above reminds us in the first sentence that “taking any drug is a matter of weighing the benefits and risks.” Yes, no question, but is there any other drug where the risks include blood clots and cancer (more on that in a minute) and the primary benefit is to stymie a natural, normal, and healthy bodily function? It carries risks similar to other medications, but unlike those other medications, it wasn’t primarily designed to treat a dysfunction. It was designed instead to cause dysfunction. The pill tricks a woman’s pituitary gland into essentially “thinking” she’s pregnant all the time. It prevents ovulation and causes the cervical mucus to thicken, mimicking how a woman’s body responds to pregnancy.
If this happened on its own, without the pill and without actually being pregnant, a woman would go to the doctor and be diagnosed with some kind of disease or disorder. It seems odd, then, that she might also go to the doctor and be prescribed medication to cause the thing that would be considered an illness if it happened without the medicine. In every situation where birth control pills are not concerned, we generally recognize that our bodies are supposed to work a certain way, and we shouldn’t do things to seriously hinder those processes for extended periods of time.
3) Cancer and blood clots.
We’ve already discussed brain cancer. There is also surely a link between hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer. There just is. Not a surprising turn of events when you consider that doctors are prescribing a Class-1 carcinogen to treat something that isn’t an illness. There are a lot of people either financially or ideologically invested in pretending that taking a medically unnecessary carcinogenic substance for decades has no chance of causing your body any harm, but these people are liars.
Blood clots are another serious risk inherent to hormonal birth control usage. You should read some of the stories of women who’ve been harmed by the pill, and then consider that they suffered these side effects because they were told that the natural workings of the female body should be treated like an affliction.
When the “Father of the Birth Control Pill” (now there’s an ironic title) died last week, I read several articles eulogizing him as a “liberator” of women. He liberated females from themselves, we’re told, and this is supposed to be a pro-woman sentiment?
It’s ridiculous. And dangerous.
All of the lawsuits against birth control drug manufacturers should tell you just how dangerous. Johnson and Johnson recently paid out $ 68 million to women hurt by their birth control products. Over 10,000 women filed suit against Yaz after suffering blood clots, strokes, and other life threatening complications.
These side effects are all listed upfront, along with things like chronic migraines, blurred vision, and depression, but the risks are often understated. And now that we’re getting girls started on the pill at younger and younger ages, it’s hard to believe they appreciate the severity of their decision.
They are introducing synthetic hormones into their bodies. They are imposing on their physiology a carcinogen listed in the same category as neutron radiation and plutonium. They don’t just have increased rates of breast and brain cancer to worry about, but liver and cervical cancer as well.
Have these facts been loudly emphasized for all of these girls?
Do they all completely understand what they’re doing?
I have my doubts.
4) Confusion and divorce.
There’s been a lot of research done about how hormonal birth control has changed women’s taste in men. It’s a fascinating and morbid subject, and I encourage you to read up on it if you haven’t. To summarize and simplify, women on the pill tend to gravitate towards men who are more feminine. This might explain, in part, the pop culture devolution from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber, John Wayne to Zach Efron, and so forth, but the implications run much deeper. The pill, being a chemical substance that so profoundly messes with a woman’s biology, creates confusion and pulls her towards men she wouldn’t otherwise find attractive. To think that this couldn’t harm relationships is naive.
Aside from all of the physical side effects, it’s scary to think that any drug could wreak this kind of psychological havoc.
This is one, though not the only, reason why the rates of birth control usage and divorce track almost identically. As the pill gained prevalence, so did divorce. That doesn’t necessarily prove anything, and you certainly can’t blame a pill for your decision to get divorced, but it’s a correlation that no honest person can ignore.
Here’s another interesting correlation: among couples who use natural family planning, the divorce rate is less than 3 percent. Again, does that prove something? No, not on its own, but it gives us something to think about.
Maybe natural family planning requires trust and self-control. Maybe marriage requires that, too.
Maybe natural family planning requires trust, discipline, and self-control, and maybe marriage requires all of that, too. And maybe we should bring into our sex lives all of the things that should be brought into our marriage as a whole. And maybe the more we do that, the more we protect ourselves from divorce. And maybe treating sex like something purely recreational ultimately weakens its significance, which weakens our marriage, which weakens us, which is all very fortunate for divorce attorneys.
You probably hear the term “commodification” a lot. Well, if you hang around recent college graduates then you probably hear it. It’s a Marxist term (hence the college graduates) referring to how ideas and people can be turned into commodities in the capitalist system. Fair enough. There’s certainly a lot of commodificationalizing going on nowadays (hey, if Marx can make up words then so can I).
The birth control pill is Exhibit A.
Proponents of the pill degrade women by tying their human worth to their economic worth. They say that women must sterilize themselves, whether permanently or temporarily, in order to “succeed” in the business world. Her value as a woman, as a human being, is placed below her value as an employee or a consumer. I am rarely one to play the “S” Card, but perhaps this is where we ought to be looking in search of workplace sexism. I can tell you this: if scientists ever develop a birth control pill for men that renders them impotent, potentially causes cancer, requires them to take a dose every day, and makes their testicles shrivel, I can guarantee that drug would not be among Rite Aid’s best sellers. Even the men who love the female birth control pill would suddenly find the whole idea rather distasteful and degrading.
I know I certainly would. And if I worked at a place where I thought my chemically imposed impotence was the only way to get ahead, I’d quit and find an employer who won’t expect me to sacrifice my manhood for his sake. But then, I guess it’s OK for me to feel that way because that’s how I feel about the female version of this.
That’s the pill for you. It always sounds terrible when put it in any other context.
But, ultimately, everyone has to make their own decisions. Hopefully, if I’ve been able to accomplish anything, I’ve at least demonstrated that the decision is more complicated than we pretend.
Or maybe it’s not very complicated at all.
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